Posted on: August 8, 2011 7:28 pm
Edited on: August 8, 2011 7:36 pm
It seemed like a good time to seek out Mark Emmert. The world has changed a lot even since the NCAA president's state-of-the-association press conference at the Final Four.
On the eve of this week's presidential retreat and a few days before Ohio State's infractions committee hearing -- both in his town -- Emmert talked to me about the issues of the day.
CBSSports.com: You said that this retreat had nothing to do with the current climate. When and why did you come up with it?
Emmert: "I was thinking about this even when I was transitioning into the job. One of my assumptions was, at some point as I came to know the NCAA, I would want to have a broad-based retreat with presidents.
"Then, as all the issues unfolded, and I got to spend more time with presidents commissioners and ADs and coaches it was clear that we have some very significant issues that need to get addressed. It has been months in the planning stage."
CBSSports.com: Has the retreat taken on an added significance because of the current climate of wrongdoing?
Emmert: "Absolutely. The high-profile cases that we've had have been these huge exclamation points about a number of the issues that we have especially around integrity problems."
CBSSports.com: What did you think about SEC commissioner Mike Slive's comment last month -- "Intercollegiate athletics has lost the benefit of the doubt"?
Emmert: "I've said that a number of times myself. I think it's true. It's true of most big institutions these days. It's hard to say that Congress has much of the benefit of the doubt. I daresay even parts of the media.
"We're in a moment in time where there is lots of skepticism. With these big cases that have been out there and the publicity that has surrounded them, there is a lot of reason the public and our fans and members of the higher education community have serious concerns. I'm among them."
CBSSports.com: What is significant about Slive and the rest of the commissioners making specific reform recommendations. Could you, for example, suggest a rise in the minimum GPA from 2.0 to 2.5?
Emmert: "Many of the issues that Mike and others have described have been works in progress for some time. Going from 2.0 to 2.5 is an active proposal that is coming out of the committee on academic performance ...
"I was delighted that Mike and [Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany] and all those putting proposals out there are doing so. It's a different day when commissioners are almost in competition to see who can come up with the best reform package."
CBSSports.com: I just wonder if there is something else at work here?
Emmert: "I've been meeting with them as a group of 31 commissioners. Many of them individually. I've been to many of their presidential meetings. Everywhere I've gone the refrain is pretty much the same. We have some significant challenges that need to be addressed."
CBSSports.com: Ohio State president Gordon Gee said recently, that presidents go to these meetings and say all the right things. But as soon as they come back on campus there is tremendous pressure from their boards of directors or trustees to produce winning teams. How much leverage do presidents have since the change has to come from them?
Emmert: "The presidents at the end of the day are the ones who are responsible for all of our athletic programs ... They are the NCAA. They're the ones who have to make those calls.
"There always has been, for a century, this struggle to find the right balance between the academic component of sports, the athletic component and the entertainment component. At different points of time different elements of that equation have had greater sway. It varies by institution.
"Every school has to find that right balance. We as an association have to find it in total."
CBSSports.com: What is your stance on cost of attendance. In general everyone is for it, but you have said you have some concerns.
Emmert: "I am adamantly opposed to paying student-athletes to be athletes. There is merit in having discussion about increasing of the support they get to manage their legitimate costs of being a student, much like we would do with a merit scholar.
"As you know, there is presently a gap between what is provided through a full grant-in-aid and the legitimate cost of attendance. I am happy to have a conversation if we want to consider closing that gap, but nothing more than that."
CBSSports.com: Why does the vacating wins work as a deterrent? It seems like it is being used more frequently.
Emmert: "I don't know if I can answer what works as a deterrent and what doesn't. When you have someone win a competition with ineligible players ... it's not fair to the teams who were their opponents. If nothing else, it's a setting of the record straight.
"I hope it acts as a deterrent. People don't like to take banners down."
CBSSports.com: Why not TV bans? (The last was applied in the 1990s)
Emmert: "I don't think it should be off the table. I think it's one of the things that should be under consideration.
"What you have to do is find a way not to penalize other programs. If you can figure out solutions to that it shouldn't be off the table."
CBSSports.com: Should there be any more significance put on the Ohio State case given the climate right now?
Emmert: "I can't speak about any one individual case. All of the high-profile cases right now are getting special scrutiny because they came in such rapid succession."
CBSSports.com: Your predecessor Walter Byers once said, the only real change in the NCAA has to come from the outside. Do you agree with that?
Emmert: "Obviously, I don't. I wouldn't take this job. I can't speak to his comment. The point of this retreat is to demonstrate we can make real change and do it collectively ourselves.
"I don't think that's impossible. In fact, I think we're going to get a lot of good things done."
CBSSports.com: When can we expect something to emerge from this meeting?
Emmert: "It's critical we come out of this meeting with a clear commitment and level of support from the presidents about the issues that are most critical to them and are most critical to advancing intercollegiate athletics.
"Obviously, this group doesn't have any authority other than a group of presidents coming together. But they can state unequivocally what's important and what they think needs to have happen and the speed with which they'd like to see it happen.
"If we're going to move forward, I want us to move forward aggressively."
CBSSports.com: Do you have an opinion on if high school games should be televised?
Emmert: "It's a really interesting issue. First of all, high school games are televised. I suspect the televising of high school games will continue to grow and grow rapidly. What the role is for any of the conference and institutional networks is just a difficult question ...
"In the meanwhile, as you've seen some folks [Big 12] are self imposing their position on it. I'm sure the Division I board of directors and I are going to have a good discussion about it. It may well be a time where we pause and figure it out and move on."
Posted on: December 30, 2010 11:46 am
Edited on: December 30, 2010 4:15 pm
Jan. 8 -- I'll never forget a crushed Mack Brown in the Rose Bowl hallway leading to the Texas lockerroom after losing to Alabama. I ask him, "Would Colt [McCoy] have made a difference?" Mack: "It wouldn't have been close."
Feb. 1 -- What's so special about Cretin-Derham Hall High in St. Paul, Minn. No. 1 recruit Seantrel Henderson? A lot. But the kid's nationally televised commitment to USC turns out to be a mockery of the system.
March 17 -- Before Butler bounces a ball in the NCAA Tournament I was there to chronicle what was then a stepping-stone job.
Also in May -- Haley Dodd graduates from high school, commits to the University of Missouri.
June 1 -- Big 12 spring meetings begin in Kansas City with all hell breaking loose.
June 3 -- Big 12 schools are so spooked by impending conference realignment that an ultimatum is issued: Declare loyalty or else. Nebraska won't commit, having been in talks with Big Ten since January.
June 9 -- Colorado announces it is joining the Pac-10.
June 11 -- Nebraska trashes Texas on the way to announcing its departure for the Big Ten in 2011. The Longhorns take their worst beating in seven years.
A portion of the remaining Big 12 have nots (Missouri, Iowa State, etc.) agree that Texas should get an increased share of conference revenue just because it's Texas. There is no Big 12 with it. The Horns spend the rest of the year establishing its own network, reportedly with ESPN for $15 million per year.
June 16 -- Troy is burned to the ground.
July 21 -- Nick Saban goes there with the p-word.
August 15 -- Haley moves into her University of Missouri dorm 30 years after her dad moved out of Columbia. Yes, a few sentimental tears were shed.
August 27 -- It's the Year of the Comeback.
September 7 -- Boise State launches itself into a season-long national conversation with a 33-30 win over Virginia Tech.
October 9 -- It's officially a national race again as defending national champ Alabama loses to South Carolina.
October 12 -- Turns out, South Carolina's win was a bigger deal than we thought. The Gamecocks become only the 45th team ever (in wire service era) to a beat a No. 1 team.
November 4 -- Story breaks of Cam Newton's dad soliciting $180,000 from Mississippi State.
November 6 -- Matt Hayes of the Sporting News and I get trapped in the LSU postgame celebration after an amazing win over Alabama. We get a behind-the-scenes look at the LSU's coach's "Lesticles."
Non-BCS story of the year: While covering that Boise-Nevada game on a bitterly cold night in Reno, a window in the press box has to be cracked so the clock crew "can hear the whistle." We're not exactly in Columbus, folks. Haven't heard a line like that since the Class 4-A state title game in 1984.
November 27 -- Miami's Randy Shannon is fired after an uninspired loss to South Florida. Jon Gruden gets his name in the search, as he always does, but in the first major hire of his career, AD Kirby Hocutt eventually picks Temple's Al Golden.
December 1 -- The best guy to talk about Kyle Brotzman's disappointment happens to be Boise resident and fan Bill Buckner.
December 5 -- Told you it was the Year of the Comeback.
December 19 -- Jack and dad enjoy the Chiefs and Rams in St. Louis during Christmas break. It's nice watching a game without a deadline to meet or a petulant coach to question. It's even better doing it with my wingman.
It was a great year. May 2011 be even better.
Tags: Alabama, Ascension Catholic School, Auburn, Baylor, BCS, Big Ten, Big Ten, Boise State, Butler, Cardinals, Chiefs, Colorado, Cretin-Derham Hall High, CYO football, ESPN, Final Four, Frozen Four, Haley Dodd, Heisman, Iowa State, Jack Dodd, Janet Dodd, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Magic Johnson, Mexico, Miami, Mississippi State, Missouri, NCAA Tournament, Nebraska, Newport Beach, North Carolina, Northern Iowa, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Oregon State, Pac-10, Padres, Rams, South Carolina, Texas, Texas, USC, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, World Cup
Posted on: April 4, 2009 7:26 pm
Edited on: April 4, 2009 8:01 pm
DETROIT -- Initial impressions of the Final Four:
This looks like a Michigan State football game. I'd say at least half of the crowd of 72,000 is for the Spartans. The only reason I know it isn't a football game is Mark Dantonio is in the first row behind the Spartans' bench.
The NCAA has made improvements since this place hosted a regional last year. Back then folks in the upper deck couldn't hear the whistle. This time, both bands are miked as well as the rims. Hearing the exagerrated sound of a ball hitting rim is a bit cartoonish. Sort of like, "Hey, we're playing basketball here.":
I guess you have to be at center court (like Freeman and I) to really experience the intensity. the officials are pretty much letting the teams play. That scrum the erupted with 1:55 left in the first half? I can't believe the only thing came out of that was a shooting foul on Michigan State. These officials better get a grip in the second half.
Wondering how I'll get home later without being mugged but that's four hours from now. If the official logo of the Final Four turns into a chalk outline you'll know what happened.